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Gun licence issued for recreational hunting and vermin
In 2001, a man was issued with a gun licence on the basis that
he had the genuine reasons of recreational hunting and vermin
From that date until 2014, the licensee had renewed or
re-applied for the gun licence as necessary.
The licensee leased property S, near Gunnedah, for grazing his
He would sometimes stay at property S. The rest of the time he
lived with his mother at property N.
Police attend break and enter at property and find
licensee's rifle on bed
The licensee's friend, Ms L, had been staying at property S
on and off for eight months, when on 27 December 2014 she reported
a break and enter at the property.
Earlier that morning, the licensee had left property S and
driven to property N to collect his rifle from safe storage in
order to put down a sick sheep at property S.
Returning to property S just prior to the police arriving, the
man entered the house and placed the rifle on the bed in his
When the police arrived, the sergeant on duty saw the rifle on
the bed, asked the licensee why it was there and informed him that
it needed to be locked away.
After conducting interviews, the police confiscated the rifle,
along with ammunition found in the house.
Gun licence suspended and then revoked
On 30 December 2014, the licensee was served with a notice
suspending his firearms licence on the basis of public
On 12 February 2015, he was charged under the NSW Firearms Act 1996 ("the
Act") with failure to keep a firearm safely and holding a
Category A or B licence without approved storage.
On 28 March 2015, after he had been charged with these offences,
his gun licence was revoked.
The licensee sought an internal review of that decision, and on
2 July 2015, the decision was affirmed by the Commissioner of
Police. In August 2015 the man applied to the NSW Civil and
Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) for a review of the
Commissioner's decision to revoke his gun licence.
Offences under Firearms Act do not result in
The licensee entered a plea of guilty to the firearms safety and
storage offences and was convicted of both charges on 6 November
The licensee then asked the court to redetermine the charges on
the basis of a plea of not guilty.
His request was heard by the Local Court on 9 March 2016, with
the court dismissing the first charge and finding the licensee
guilty of the second charge without a conviction.
Appeal against revocation of gun licence follows
non-convictions on gun safety charges
When the appeal against the revocation of the gun licence was
heard by NCAT in July 2016, the tribunal had to determine whether
the licence could be reinstated, given that the firearms safety and
storage charges against the man had not resulted in convictions by
case a - The case for the Commissioner of Police
case b - The case for the licensee
There are several grounds under the Act that justify my
decision to revoke the licensee's gun licence.
First, the licensee contravened the Act by failing to take all
reasonable precautions to ensure the safe storage of his firearms,
including the requirement to store them in a locked receptacle of
an approved type. When interviewed by the police, the licensee
conceded that he kept his rifle unattended and unsecured at
property S, including in his bedroom, behind a cupboard and on his
bed and that he left ammunition unattended and unsecured at the
property as well.
Secondly, the licensee is not a fit and proper person to hold a
gun licence, as is evidenced by his continued demonstration of a
poor attitude and his disregard for public safety. In an interview
with the police, the licensee admitted that he keeps a rifle with
him at property S "all the time", although his safe
storage address is at property N and there is no gun safe at
property S. Ms L also gave evidence that the licensee kept a gun at
property S at all times.
Thirdly, it is not in the public interest for the licensee to
continue to hold a gun licence. As the tribunal has noted in the
past, "The [Act] requires strict compliance precisely because
misuse of firearms can result in catastrophic consequences."
Although the licensee's rifle and ammunition were not stolen
during this particular break-in, it is conceivable, and indeed a
very real risk, that intruders could have stolen the unsecured
rifle and/or ammunition.
Given that the licensee has contravened the Act, is not a fit
and proper person to hold a gun licence and would pose a risk to
public safety if he were to hold one, the tribunal should uphold my
decision to revoke his licence.
The Commissioner of Police relied on the criminal proceedings
of 2015 to conclude that I had contravened the Act, thereby
justifying the revocation of my gun licence. However, since I
successfully challenged those convictions, the Commissioner's
reliance on the proceedings was inappropriate.
The Commissioner of Police contends that I am not a fit and
proper person to hold a gun licence and that it would be against
public safety for me to hold a licence. However, my actions before,
during and after the day of the break-in contradict these
Prior to the break-in, I normally stored my rifle at property N
in a locked safe as required by the Act. The police even inspected
the safe after the break-in and found that it complied with the
As I only stayed at property S occasionally, I had not yet
installed firearms storage at the premises by the day of the
break-in. However, I have since done so and this risk will not
arise again. There is no risk to public safety.
It is because I stored my rifle safely at property N that I had
to drive there to retrieve it on the morning of the break-in. My
plan was to use the rifle to put down a sick sheep. I was only
inside the house at property S with the rifle because I went in to
make sure that Ms L was okay. Further, I made sure to have the
firing bolt and magazine on my person so that the gun could not be
used by anyone else. I also complied with the police officer's
instructions to disassemble the rifle and put it out of view.
I also deny the statements made by Ms L that I kept a gun at
property S at all times. As I always keep my rifle with me, the
only time a firearm would be at the premises would be when I was
also there, which was rarely.
Further, I was unwell on the day of these events, and my
thinking was partially impaired, which may have contributed to any
carelessness I may have exhibited on that day.
Finally, it is in the public interest for me to hold a firearms
licence, since I am primary producer. Owning a firearm will enable
me to deal with the wild dog and fox attacks that inflict harm on
Given that I have not committed any contravention of the Act,
am a fit and proper person and am not a threat to the public
interest, the tribunal should reinstate my gun licence.